Dane

Four months later

The ringtone of my phone tore me out of my dreams, and, still half asleep, I reached for my phone to see who woke us that late. It was Gabe. If he was calling in the middle of the night, it could only mean one thing: the baby was coming! "Gabe?" I mumbled, still drowsy.

"It's happening! Josie's in labor! We're on our way to the hospital now."

I sat up and tried to wake up. "Okay," I mumbled. "I'll wake Tessa, then we come."

"W-What?"

"Didn't Josie tell you her and Tessa decided she'd get into the next plane to Chicago when she's in labor?" I asked my brother.

"Uhm… no. She didn't say a word about that."

I suppressed a sigh. "Good, seems like she wanted to surprise you with it then," I said and threw my blanket off. "I'll come, too, by the way," I added.

"Are you guys serious? You really wanna fly to Chicago to be there when the baby comes? Actually, I just called to tell you two the baby's gonna be here a little earlier than planned."

"Of course I'm serious. Tessa wouldn't shut up about it anyway, until she's seen the baby and knows Josie's alright."

"Okay, then… see you later!"

I heard a scream in the background and flinched a little. "Go to the hospital now!" I urged my brother. "I'll wake Tessa and book the next flight. See you there then." I was just about to hang up when I remembered something else. "Oh yeah, what hospital are you going to?"

"Northwestern Memorial."

"Good, see you there then," I said again. "Text or call me when there's news."

"Will do."

"And Gabe…"

"What?"

"Good luck!" I hung up and then woke Tessa, who, right when she learned about the reason for the waking, jumped out of bed as though a tarantula had bitten her and ran to the bathroom. It seemed she had only done a catlick, because she already came running into the kitchen after ten minutes, all ready and dressed and even painted. Her hair was put up into a ponytail.

"Did you look when the next flight to Chicago goes?" she asked, all excited.

I nodded. "In about two hours. But we should think of being there early, cause of the check-in and all that."

"Only in two hours?" She looked at me in horror. "And the flight's gonna take us another three hours, plus the drive to the hospital. That's more than five hours, Dane! The baby could be here already until then!"

"Could be, doesn't have to be," I said soothingly, because I could hear how panicky she was. "I read it always takes longer with the first baby."

"The exception proves the rule," Tessa said and rolled her eyes. She went to the kitchen and took a bowl and some cereals from the cupboard.

I went to the bathroom, also got ready, and then began to pack my stuff. When I came back into the kitchen, my look fell onto the calendar where Tessa had entered Josie's expected date of giving birth, which would have been in only three weeks. I quickly ate something, too, then went to the bedroom, where Tessa was throwing her clothes into a travel bag.

"If I'd known the kid would come sooner, I would've packed sooner, too," she said, sighing.

"Maybe it's just false alarm," I gave, because I remembered having read about that on the internet during my research on pregnancy and birth, too.

Tessa zipped her bag and looked at me. "It's possible. But we can't know that, and that's why we need to make sure in person."

I nodded. Even if it was only a false alarm, I had practically heard the panic in Gabe's voice and wanted to be with him now. The drive to the airport went smoothly, and we parked our car, took our luggage, and entered the airport building. After the usual check-in procedures, which went very quickly this time, because at this time not many travelers were around yet, we entered the plane and took our seats.

"You heard from Gabe yet?" Tessa asked and put on her seatbelt.

I shook my head. "Not since he called. But he probably got other worries than to text me."

"You think the baby's there already?"

I shrugged. "No idea." I didn't want to show Tessa that not having heard from Gabe made me just as nervous. "I got an idea," I mumbled, scrolling through my contacts.

"What you up to?"

"I'll call my parents," I said shortly. "They're closer and sure know how Josie is."

"You think that's a good idea?" Tessa pointed at the clock. "It's just before five. Most people are still sleeping at this time."

"It's Sunday today, right?"

She grinned. "You're pretty fuzzy, huh?" she teased me, adding more seriously, "Yeah, it's Sunday."

"At least I don't have to check in on work then. What about you?"

She shrugged. "I'll text Scotty later that I went to Chicago to be there when Josie has her baby. He knows she's pregnant."

"Okay." I focussed back on my phone and dialed my parents' number. It took ages until someone picked up. "Hey, Mom!"

"Dane? Why you calling in the middle of the night? Did something happen?"

Scalding hot, I remembered it was only four in Chicago right now. And additionally, it seemed my parents hadn't even been informed by Gabe about Josie being in labor. I quickly told my mother, but also told her that she was to stay calm. But my attempt was a dead end. I could hear her excited call to my father, "The baby's coming! We need to get to the hospital!" — I ended the call after I had also told her that Tessa and I were on our way to Chicago, too. They told us to turn off our phones, so I put it aside. The next two to three hours, depending on how long the flight would take, we now had no chance to contact Gabe anymore. Not knowing about Josie and the baby tore at both our nerves. I reached for Tessa's hand and squeezed it gently. "Hey, stay calm! Everything's gonna be alright."

Tessa nodded, trying hard to keep back her tears. "I promised her I would be there when she gives birth," she said miserably. "I wanted to hold her hand and support her."

"You can still do that," I said to comfort her.

"Yeah, maybe…" She rested her head on my shoulder.

"Try and sleep a little," I said softly. "I'll wake you just before the landing."

She nodded and closed her eyes then, and it didn't take long until she had fallen asleep.